National Human Rights Institutions
NHRI Participation in the Durban Review Conference
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are public institutions partly funded by individual governments; they can play a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level - a role that is increasingly recognized by the international community.
Maasai dancers entertain participants at the 9th International Conference of National Institutions in Nairobi in October 2008. Photo By: UNHCHR photo
NHRIs are among the expert bodies specifically called upon to help implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), agreed on at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance. NHRIs that comply with the international standards for the establishment of national institutions, known as the Paris Principles, are important actors in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
NHRIs are given official accreditation status by the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC).
A Guidance Note was prepared by the National Institutions Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in July 2008 on the role of NHRIs in the Durban Review process.
National human rights institutions adopt commitments at the Durban Review Conference
On 20 April 2009, national human rights institutions from around the world met at a side event during the Durban Review Conference to consider their role in implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) to share best practices on, and key challenges to, monitoring racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Panelists at the event included the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Costa Rica National Human Rights Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Their presentations looked at issues such as the contemporary public discourse on racism; NHRI’s legal infrastructure for work on combating racism; the role of NHRIs in supporting state authorities; and NHRIs and human rights education, policy and community engagement projects in relation to racial discrimination.
NHRIs participating in the event identified priority areas where they committed to take action following the Review Conference. These priority areas include: national plans of action; encouraging ratification of the relevant international treaties on racism and their implementation through domestic legislation; monitoring racism at the local, regional and global levels and contributing information to the observatory proposed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights; establishing focal points and networks on racism; further increasing engagement with the UN human rights system; and ensuring that governments adequately resource NHRIs to carry out their functions independently and effectively, despite the current financial environment.
- Concluding Statement at the side event
- Commitments by NHRIs at the Durban Review Conference
- Summary report: Side event: The role of NHRIs in the implementation of the DDPA
Application for funding to participate in the Durban Review Conference
The OHCHR is supporting the participation of NHRIs in the Durban Review Conference, scheduled for 20-24 April 2009 in Geneva.
OHCHR will purchase economy air tickets to Geneva for a limited number of NHRIs to enable them to take part in the Review Conference. NHRIs with “A” accreditation status according to the ICC and who are from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will be given priority, followed by NHRIs who would not be able to participate if their travel is not funded. All NHRIs attending the Conference will be required to cater for all other related costs, including accommodation.
To apply for the travel funding, please send a brief email stating the name of the NHRI and the name of the proposed participant (no more than one per NHRI) to the National Institutions Unit of the OHCHR. Please state “Funding Application” in the subject line.
The deadline for applications for funding was 7 March 2009.
Registration for the Review Conference
Any NHRI wishing to register for the Durban Review Conference, regardless of whether or not funding is required, should send to the Secretariat a letter on its official letterhead, signed by its main representative, stating the names of the representatives who will be attending the Conference on behalf of the organization. This letter should be scanned and emailed to the National Institutions Unit of the OHCHR, or faxed to: + 41 (0)22 928-9018. Please state “Registration” in the subject line.
ICC working group on the Review Conference
In October 2008, at the 9th International Conference of NHRIs in Nairobi, Kenya, a working group was established to discuss how NHRIs can participate in the Durban Review Conference and its preparatory process. The working group is co-chaired by Mr. Anselmo Lee, National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chair); Mr. Tseliso Thipanyane, South African Human Rights Commission (Co Chair). Other members are: Sylvie Kayitesi, National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda; Mr. Hans Otto Sano, Danish Institute for Human Rights; Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, German Institute for Human Rights; Mr. Alexis Asatashvili, Mexican National Human Rights Commission; Mr. Daniel Soley Guitierrez, Defensoria de los Habitantes Costa Rica; Ms Hesti Armiwulan, National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas Ham).
Dr. Kgamadi Kometsi, of the South African Human Rights Commission, delivered a statement on behalf the ICC at the January 2009 Intersessional intergovernmental Working Group meeting in Geneva, which began negotiations towards a draft outcome document for the Review Conference. Dr. Kometsi’s statement included concrete proposals for the outcome document.
Conference Side-Event organized by OHCHR: The Role of NHRIs in implementing the DDPA
OHCHR is organizing a series of events to be held during the Review Conference that will highlight the issues being discussed at the conference itself. The National Institutions Unit of OHCHR, in cooperation with the ICC, will hold a 3-hour discussion on the Role of NHRIs in Implementing the DDPA on the 20 April 2009 at Palais de Nations, UN Office at Geneva. This side-event will enable NHRIs to share experiences in, and identify key challenges to, the implementation of the DDPA. Discussions will be held with the objective of consolidating NHRI efforts on the implementation and coordination of activities relating to the DDPA at the national, regional and international levels. The expected outcomesof the event include concrete proposals for stronger monitoring and implementation mechanisms on discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance - possibly through the setting up of national and regional observatories - and the strengthening of NHRI race relations strategies. All those at the Review Conference are welcome to attend this event.
All NHRI queries should be addressed to the National Institutions Unit of the OHCHR.